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Getting Ready for Back-to-School
Is it that time already? Seems like summer break just got started. Well, here are some back-to-school suggestions that hopefully you will find useful and practical.
Getting ready for back-to-school should, in all actuality, begin at the beginning of summer break. Here’s how.
1) enroll young children in summer reading programs with your local library so that they are continuously practicing and improving their reading skills. Most programs also reward participants for successful completion of the summer reading program. Many businesses, including restaurants support and sponsor summer reading programs. Ask around in your area to find out which ones.
2) have older students read novels from their school’s recommended reading lists during the summer. You may want to require a book report to enhance the experience.
3) purchase or download grade level workbooks for your child to complete. Make sure to select a workbook that is aligned to your state’s curriculum and is leveled for your child’s upcoming grade for the next school year. This ensures that the summer enrichment is both meaningful and relevant to what your child is expected to know once school begins again.
When my children were school aged, we would spend about an hour each weekday on group and individual school work and 30 minutes on a bible story. I would vary the instruction to keep it interesting and keep the children engaged in the learning process. I wanted it to be fun for them so they wouldn’t feel like they were being punished during the summer or were still in school. So some days, we would play educational games (kinesthetic learning), do workbook lessons and watch educational videos (visual learning), and do oral presentations (auditory learning). Visiting the library once weekly was also a part of our summer routine.
In the event your child has been on a break from learning all summer long, you may want to enroll him/her in a tutoring or enrichment program for about 2 weeks before the school year begins. This will provide your child with a refresher while jump-starting their minds for learning. You may have to pay for the services, but the investment will be well worth it.
As summer draws to an end, follow these suggestions for heading back to school.
1) Make sure to get your child’s school supply list before purchasing school supplies. Children do not have to go back to school on the very first day with an onslaught of supplies. Be patient and wait on the list if you don‘t have one and are unable to find it. Teachers are generally very specific about the supplies that they want their students to have.
Supplies that are commonly used such as paper, pencils, and pens are great for starting a new school year and for purchasing in excess or bulk when you find them on sale. Index cards are usually a necessity for older students. If you find them on sale, grab all you can afford.
On the other hand, most parents have a difficult time resisting really great deals on supplies; but if an item is not on the list, don’t buy it. These items, when sent to school, become a source of great distraction for your child, other students, and sometimes the teacher. It’s a major challenge, particularly for younger children, to stay focused on instruction when they have access to all of these cool, new, unnecessary items just within hands’ reach.
Remember to follow this rule of thumb when purchasing electronic school supplies for older students. Wait for the supply list and always keep your receipts. I lose count of all the times my children needed scientific calculators. I’d let them select one before getting the supply list only to find out it wasn’t the specific, much more expensive model.
2) Familiarize yourself with the school district’s dress and/or uniform codes and policies before shopping for your child’s back to school wardrobe. By doing so, you will not make the mistake of purchasing and sending your child to school in clothing that violate policy. If your child is required to wear uniforms and/or specific colors; make sure you know what they are and where to find them. If you are on a tight budget, check out local thrift stores and consignment stores in your area. If tax-free holidays are offered in your area, plan to take advantage of them. Be careful that you don’t get caught up in the hype of tax-free shopping, and that the deal really is a deal.
3) Attend back-to-school community outreach events (normally referred to as bashes) where free school supplies and book bags are given away. Some even offer free haircuts for the guys, barrettes for the girls, free uniforms, and food. These events are completely free and usually are plentiful right before the beginning of the school year. You can attend one or all of them. Most are sponsored by churches, nonprofit groups, radio stations, recreation departments, etc.
4) Begin getting your child back into the school routine about 2 weeks before the start of school. During the first week, start scaling back 15-30 minutes off their summer bed times until they are going to bed at the same time they would during the school year. The second week, they are practicing their school year bedtime so that by the first week of school, they are back into their routine. If you have working teenagers in the home, consider having them do the same thing with their summer work schedules beginning 2 weeks before the start of the new school year. Studies show that students perform better and are more attentive in school when they receive proper rest each night.
5) Meet and get to know all of your child’s teachers. Attend orientation and open house events. Follow up during the school year by attending conferences and PTA/PTO meetings. If your schedule permits, volunteer in your child’s school or classroom. If your child’s teacher provides parents with an email address; feel free to use it to discuss your child’s progress and any concerns that you and the teacher may have. Reach out to your child’s teacher. This demonstrates your interest and active involvement in your child’s education. It also lets the teacher know that you are not expecting him/her to solely shoulder the responsibility for your child’s learning. Don’t wait for the teacher to initiate contact. You make yourself available to your child’s teacher so that you become a team of caring, professional adults working together for your child’s best interest.